Six months on, most COVID sufferers nonetheless have no less than 1 symptom | Coronavirus pandemic Information
More than three-quarters of people hospitalized with COVID-19 still had at least one symptom after six months, according to a new study.
The study, published in the Lancet Medical Journal on Saturday, included hundreds of patients in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first discovered.
It found that fatigue or muscle weakness were the most common symptoms, while people also reported having trouble sleeping.
Scientists said the study – among the few who are tracking the long-term symptoms of COVID-19 – shows the need for further research into ongoing coronavirus effects.
“With COVID-19 being such a new disease, we are only just beginning to understand some of its long-term effects on patient health,” said lead author Bin Cao of the National Center for Respiratory Medicine.
The professor said the research highlighted the need to continue caring for patients after they are discharged from the hospital, especially those who have had severe infections.
The new study included 1,733 COVID-19 patients discharged from Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan between January and May last year.
Patients with a mean age of 57 years were visited between June and September and answered questions about their symptoms and health-related quality of life.
The researchers also performed physical exams and laboratory tests.
The study found that 76 percent of patients who attended the follow-up visit (1,265 out of 1,655) said they still had symptoms.
Fatigue or muscle weakness was reported by 63 percent, while 26 percent had trouble sleeping.
The study also looked at 94 patients whose blood antibody levels were recorded at the peak of the infection as part of another study.
When these patients were retested after six months, their neutralizing antibody levels were 52.5 percent lower.
The authors said this raises concerns about the possibility of COVID-19 infection again, although they said larger samples would be needed to clarify how immunity to the virus changes over time.
The World Health Organization has stated that the virus poses a risk to some people with serious ongoing effects – even to young, otherwise healthy people who have not been hospitalized. To date, more than 89 million coronavirus cases have been confirmed, including about 1.9 million deaths and 49.5 million salvaged.
“Patients must be seen for six months or more because of complications from contracting the virus. This means that we will have even less capacity and fewer health care workers to treat these people, ”Oksana Pyzik, global health advisor and lecturer at UCL, told Al Jazeera.
“That will have consequences for the treatment of all types of chronic diseases,” said Pyzik.
In a commentary article also published in the Lancet, Monica Cortinovis, Norberto Perico and Giuseppe Remuzzi of Italy’s Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri IRCCS said there was uncertainty about the long-term health consequences of the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, there are few reports on the clinical picture of the consequences of COVID-19,” they said. The latest study is therefore “relevant and current”.
They said longer term multidisciplinary research in the US and UK would help improve understanding and develop therapies to “mitigate the long-term effects of COVID-19 on multiple organs and tissues”.